Every August or September, I buy one to three hockey pool magazines. These feature in-depth previews and predictions about the year to come, ostensibly compiled by experts. As magazines go, they’re fairly hefty and not cheap. I paid $10 for the Score’s Sports Forecaster, which runs to 162 pages.
There are four or five publications that come out, all more or less covering the same ground. I usually read The Score’s because there’s the most analysis on individual players. These magazines have a peculiarity–each city or region gets its own cover. This no doubt makes the hometown buyer feel good about seeing a familiar face (or eyes in the case of my issue–a masked Luongo is on the cover).
It must be a considerable undertaking to assemble one of these magazines. There’s probably 900 players to report on (NHLers plus prospects) and 30 teams, plus a huge schwack of statistics to massage and display accurately. It’s really a big technical writing job, with a little hockey insight thrown in. There’s a good newspaper feature in visiting one of these publishers to report on how the process works.
Few Ads in Sight
Here’s the shocking thing about these magazines: they hardly have any ads. The Score’s edition has just seven full page ads for non-Score properties, from four companies. Any Cosmo reader will tell you that the average ratio of ads to editorial is more like, what, 60-40? 70-30?
The hockey magazines are, like a few others (National Geographic? What else?), about selling content and not about selling you ads wrapped around a few articles. This despite the fact that one can find all of the stats and most (if not more) of the analysis online.
Hockey magazines seem to fly in the face of contemporary attitudes about publishing. Of course, they could be on their last legs, financially, but they don’t seem to be.
The lesson? There’s still hope for curators and creators of really useful content.